March 12, 2019
Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have traded for DeSean Jackson and have reportedly worked out a new three-year, $27 million deal with him, they have a decision upcoming on Nelson Agholor, who is in an interesting situation.
The Eagles exercised Agholor's fifth-year option last offseason, and he is scheduled to be on the Eagles' salary cap in 2019 at $9,387,000. His contract is currently not guaranteed, meaning that the Eagles can trade or cut him without penalty, for now. It becomes fully guaranteed on March 13 (tomorrow), at which point he won't be going anywhere.
There are four ways it can go with Agholor:
According to Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, the most likely scenario is that the team simply keeps him at $9,387,000.
Nelson Agholor is likely to remain with the #Eagles, and not necessarily with new contract, source said. Would likely take an attractive offer to pry him away, and maybe if he’s open to restructuring to play elsewhere w/ bigger role, that’s possible. But expectation is he stays.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) March 12, 2019
Let's examine each option.
• In this scenario, Alshon Jeffery and Jackson would be the starters on the outside, with Agholor in his best position in the slot. This would be a really good trio of receivers that would give the Eagles all kinds of different ways to attack opposing defenses. They'd have a potent 11 personnel grouping, to go along with a two-tight end package with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Doug Pederson could get really creative cycling back and forth between those two groupings, mixing run and pass, and keeping opposing defenses off balance.
• After the season, the seemingly worst case scenario would be that the Eagles could then let Agholor walk in free agency, when he would almost certainly earn a contract big enough to count toward the compensatory pick formula.
• Obviously, $9,387,000 is a high cost for a slot receiver, and the team would be paying their top three receivers overall a whole lot of money. Jeffery is scheduled to count for $14,725,000 against the cap this season. To be determined what Jackson's first year cap number will be, though it's usually the lowest number on the contract, by a wide margin.
Is Agholor worth $9,387,000? That's debatable. Many would say no (and I would agree with them). However, it would make some sense to keep Agholor at an inflated number for one season while Jackson's cap number is (presumably) still low.
A contract extension feels very unlikely. Above we noted that Jeffery will count for $14,725,000 against the cap in 2019. He'll count for $15,975,000 both in 2020 and 2021. Jackson's cap number, meanwhile, (again, without knowing the details) will likely jump up to a high number as well in 2020. The Eagles can reasonably keep Agholor in 2019, but it will be hard for them to afford three receivers with big cap numbers in 2020.
The Eagles are very clearly open to this option, and it's probably their preference if they can get something worthwhile in return. I believe a player-for-player swap would make some sense for other teams around the league. We'll see if the Eagles can get something done today.
It would be a tough pill to swallow to just cut a player they've worked hard to coach up over the last four years. I have believed all offseason that this is the least likely scenario. It is also the one that the Eagles aren't considering, according to McLane's report above.
After the trade for Jackson, I would rank Agholor's new likelihoods like so:
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